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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The announcement of a new UPEI residence may have more to do with providing an athlete’s village for the upcoming Canada Winter Games than meeting the needs of students, a Green MLA is suggesting.
During Wednesday’s Question Period, Charlottetown-Parkdale MLA Hannah Bell described the timing of last week’s announcement of the 260-unit residence as “curious”.
The announcement was made one day before it was revealed that the P.E.I. would host the 2023 winter games.
“Considering the haste with which the announcement was made and the lack of inclusion (of a new residence) in the Housing Action Plan, would it be fair to describe this residence as having less to do with meeting the needs of students and more to do with providing an athlete’s village for the Canada Games?” asked Bell.
While Bell said a new residence was great news, she noted there were no items in the province’s housing action plan released in August that specifically supported students or a new residence.
“What changed between the launch of the housing action plan in late August and the announcement of the new residence in late October?” asked Bell.
Finance Minister Heath MacDonald appeared to deny that the residence and Canada Games were connected and said the hope was for the residence to be built by 2020, while the Canada Games will not be held until 2023.
“There’s a variance in that,” said MacDonald, who also stated the university’s growth and large enrolment of international students have made the new residence necessary. “
We’re bucking the trend, and our universities and our post-secondaries continue to grow because of the good programs they offer here in P.E.I.,” said MacDonald. “I think a new residence is only appropriate.”
Bell also questioned where the funding for the new residence would come from and asked that the project’s funding agreement be tabled.
He said the province was still working on the funding agreement with UPEI.
“It would be operational funding because it’s a partnership. And there would be a three-tier funding partnership from the federal, provincial and university.”